HALO Rescue puts hands on a plow in a unique fundraising opportunity.

Thanks to several donations within the local agriculture sector, a section of land in the region will be seeded, nurtured and ultimately harvested, with proceeds going to HALO’s annual budget, Paul Carolan, HALO representative, announced Tuesday.

Several of HALO’s board members are farmers and ranchers who recognized the opportunity, and Carolan called it a genuine “grassroots” initiative.

Kuizenga Farms has donated 160 acres of leased land near Highway 885 and TWP Road 104, about 35 minutes southwest of Medicine Hat, said Carolan.

The first crop will be a variety of wheat.

“We leave that to the people who know,” said Carolan. “Allen (Kuizenga) is a farmer in the area (and is the co-chair for HALO) … Just like everybody else who is a farmer we rely on good moisture and all of that, but HALO stands to benefit from the full proceeds.”

The seed was donated by Tony Crooymans & Sons and Kuizenga. Fertilizer was donated by ICI in Barnwell, chemicals by Taber Home and Farm Centre and the agronomy by ProMax Agronomy in Lethbridge, said Carolan. The ground was seeded Tuesday by Western Tractor and Kuizenga Farms.

Western Tractor has already committed to helping with harvest, said Carolan.

A s with all crops, it is difficult to predict exactly what the proceeds are likely to be.

“If we get good moisture we think it could be as much as $60,000 and potentially higher,” said Carolan.

The concept originated from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank initiative that was started to address hunger around the world, said Carolan.

“Farmers donate at the graineries a percentage that goes to addressing world hunger,” said Carolan. “That was the theme around it but we wanted to keep it very local. It is just like HALO, a grassroots movement.”

With so many fundraising initiatives for so many causes it is important to find something unique, he explained.

HALO Rescue is southern Alberta’s only dedicated medivac rescue helicopter. HALO unveiled a BK-117 twin-engine helicopter last October, putting its equipment on a par with that of STARS. Previously it had used a single-engine helicopter, which had a few limitations. HALO in January received $1 million in one-time funding from the government of Alberta toward its annual operating costs of $2.6 million.

Carolan says HALO has significant donors that contribute consistently toward the annual budget, while it hosts small events to top up the amount.

“Obviously we always want to make sure we are able to have a conversation with the government of Alberta about sustained funding. With the new government we hope to have those conversations and get something more sustained so we can continue to build the program,” said Carolan.

The BK-117 helicopter has increased the conditions in which it is able to carry out rescue missions. A rescue was made this past Sunday in high winds. It is also in a position to land anywhere but is not flying at night yet.

“We have to develop a night-vision goggle program in order to fly in low light to dark conditions. That is underway. We are not quite there yet,” said Carolan.

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